Contributed by: ElyseRomano Friday, September 13 2019 @ 11:25 am
Dating services have collaborated with fashion labels, food brands, artists, candlemakers, musicians, movies, television networks, sports teams and charities - but a new crop of partnership deals may be the most surprising yet. According to a recent report by the Houston Chronicle[*1] , Tinder and Bumble are hosting parties with fraternities on college campuses. In return, the fraternities are signing contracts declaring that they are exclusively a Tinder house or a Bumble house.
“Simply scan to enroll!,” read a sign posted outside a University of Texas party earlier this year, referring to a scannable QR code printed below. “Must: be within five miles of campus, be ages 18-22, have an existing Tinder profile, have UT Austin in your profile.”
An anonymous fraternity member told the Chronicle that the deal is mutually beneficial. The dating apps get exposure to thousands of potential new users in one of the most important demographics, 18-25 year olds. In exchange, the fraternities receive money to cover production costs for parties, as well as branded signage and swag. Party guests must present their existing dating profile or create a new one in order to gain admittance at the door.
Parents are expressing concern the ethics of these promotional practices. “I think parents would want to know this,” Joell McNew, president of Safehorns, a safety advocacy nonprofit, told the Chronicle. “It’s an awareness issue. We’re still parents, regardless of how old you are.”
“It’s one thing if the party is sponsored by these companies, but once they start forcing somebody to participate in their company in some way, I have a problem with that, because I don’t think that should be necessary to enjoy the event,” said Millie Lopez Stuessy, whose daughter attends UT.
The dating companies, on the other hand, have been quick to defend their college partnerships. “More than half of our users are between the ages of 18-25, so college students are one of our core demographics,” a Tinder spokesman said in an email. “In addition to our Tinder U product experience, which connects users with other students first, we operate a student marketing internship program that focuses on on-campus partnerships, creative marketing activations and social media management. Through the program, we sometimes sponsor events with different social organizations on campus, which helps introduce — or reintroduce — our brand to new groups of people.”
Samantha Fulgham, Bumble’s Chief Creative Marketing Officer, responded to the app’s presence at UT’s Roundup, a weekend festival of parties and performances. “We encourage students to download Bumble in order to attend Bumble-sponsored events during RoundUp,” she said. “Not only does this give them an opportunity to connect with other students who may be attending the same event as them, but it also gives them an opportunity to connect outside of RoundUp.”
Sponsored parties are confirmed to have taken place at the University of Texas, Oklahoma University, Tulane University and Northwestern University, but both Tinder and Bumble and Tinder declined reveal exactly how many campuses they're operating on... or how much money the fraternities stand to earn by playing ball.